In this series, while Australia came prepared, India arrived late.
After beating England and New Zealand with minimum fuss, the result in Pune came as a rude shock and a timely reminder that every Test match has to be won and every opposition has to be respected.
It also taught all of us in the media that Test cricket isn’t so much about what happened in the past (Australia couldn’t even draw a Test in Sri Lanka and India didn’t lose a single Test in over a year) but only about what happens on the day.
After winning the first day of the second Test, Australia needed to win just one more day to seal the fate of the series, and that’s when India arrived. The way India bowled on the second day of the second Test revealed the true character of this young team.
It’s not that they bowled Australia inside fifty overs and secured the first innings lead, but their desperation for the cause ensured that Australia didn’t run away with the game. It was the turning point of the series from India’s perspective.
After conceding a slender first innings lead, once again, India dug deep with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane to keep the game alive. Pujara went on to score a double hundred in Ranchi but his innings of 92 in Bengaluru was not just his best innings of the series but also, one of the best Test innings of his career.
JADEJA, THE TEST ALL-ROUNDER
For the longest time, Ravindra Jadeja remained Ravichandran Ashwin’s understudy and assumed the role of the support cast. His six wickets in the first innings of the second Test and again a five-wicket haul in the first innings of Ranchi finally brought him out of Ashwin’s shadow.
Taking wickets in the first innings of a Test match requires a lot of skills and guile because the pitch isn’t as responsive. Accuracy has always been Jadeja’s best friend but in this home season, he also acquainted himself to subtle variations in pace and spin.
The Saurashtra spinner has started bowling a lot closer to the stumps and also, a little slower from time to time, which in turn has made him an all-weather bowler.
In addition to his bowling, this home season saw him arrive and mature as a Test batsman. His innings of 63 in Dharamshala turned the Test and the series in India’s favour.
500+ runs and 50+ wickets in a season in Test cricket:— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) March 26, 2017
Kapil Dev, 1979/80
Mitchell Johnson, 2008/09
RAVINDRA JADEJA, 2016/17#INDvAUS
UMESH EXPRESS HAS ARRIVED
It’s not often that you see an Indian seamer outpace and outbowl his Australian counterparts but the spell that sealed the deal for India in Dharamshala did just that.
Umesh Yadav bowled with a lot of steam on the third-day pitch and removed both openers before half the lead was wiped out. There are certain spells in Test matches that leave an indelible mark on one’s memory and his spell in Dharamshala will go down as one of them.
Considering that it was the last match of a long home season (Umesh played 12 out of the 13 Tests), it was incredible to see that he had enough fuel left in the tank to bowl a fiery spell.
Umesh has arrived at the international stage and once Mohammed Shami is fit, will form a bowling pair to fear in the future.
LOST TOSSES, LOST THE CAPTAIN BUT WON THE SERIES
The highlight of this series was the fact that India lost three tosses, captain Virat Kohli lost his form and then India lost him due to an injury and still the scoreline read 2-1 in the end.
In fact, not just Kohli, but Rahane and Karun Nair also didn’t find their groove until the end and that didn’t dent India’s belief and resolve. Pujara, KL Rahul, and Wriddhiman Saha stood up on multiple occasions and won crucial sessions-moments.
The sign of a good team is that it’s not reliant on one or two individuals to perform all the time, for it’s a collection of match-winners, and this home season has illustrated that this team has what it takes to remain at the top for a long time.
Now that the trophy is won and the dust is settled, I hope that both the players and fans remember this series for the exhilarating cricket it produced over the four Test matches.
There hasn’t been a single Test in the series that didn’t provide opportunities to both sides and in the end, it was only a matter of India seizing a few more opportunities than the Australians.
In the era of home domination, this series will go a long way in reigniting the love for Test cricket.
Lost 4 tosses vs England, won four Tests...lost three tosses vs Australia, won the series 2-1. Play well to make the toss irrelevant.— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) March 28, 2017